Bulgaria: Scandal-hit former Speaker Rashidov quits Parliament, GERB and politics

Two days after his remarks about new legislation against domestic violence caused widespread outrage, Vezhdi Rashidov – a former Speaker of Parliament and former cabinet minister – announced on August 9 that he was resigning as an MP, from Boiko Borissov’s GERB party and was leaving politics.

On August 7, during an adjournment of debate on new amendments to the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act, Rashidov – unaware there was a live microphone nearby – said: “We have laws in place already. What are we yapping our mouths for? All the whores woke up to remember that they were raped 15 years ago. Like with that American director who was made a monkey out of”

Earlier, as controversy over his remarks erupted, Rashidov stepped down as head of Parliament’s committee on culture and media and as a member of the executive GERB, which in its own statement distanced itself from his remarks.

In a statement on August 7, Rashidov said: “I apologise for the words I spoke today during the break of the plenary session. I realise that the language I used is unacceptable, especially in the current debate and moment. Once again I apologise to the entire Bulgarian society and all the victims of violence “.

Rashidov’s initial statement and resignations did not quell the outrage. At a national protest on August 8 against domestic violence, there were calls for Rashidov to resign from Parliament, with similar calls also coming from NGOs working on domestic violence issues.

Domestic violence has been a prominent issue in Bulgaria in recent weeks, because of a number of cases that have received widespread media coverage. It was these cases that prompted the August 7 amendments to the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act, after Parliament had earlier amended the act on July 21.

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